Beginning the Chondrosarcoma Journey

Beginning the Chondrosarcoma Journey



Chondrosarcoma is a rare form of bone cancer. It develops from normal cartilage which goes through malignant change, or can form within a pre-existing benign tumor called osteochondroma, or enchondroma. People who have chondrosarcoma have a single tumor growth which can vary in size and location.

Chondrosarcoma is common to humans as well as animals. All patients are not the same in how they are affected. The surgical treatment methods of their doctors are not always the same, either. Each case has to be considered on it's own specific circumstances.
Chondrosarcoma can be referred to by various other names too, depending on the type of cells identified by looking at them under a microscope. It is the second most common primary bone cancer.

For example:
Conventional (Central)
Clear Cell
Extra Skeletal Myxoid

It is important to understand the difference between a benign and malignant bone tumor. Benign bone tumors are not sarcomas. Benign bone tumors do not spread to other tissues or organs, and are not life-threatening. They are generally removed by surgery if there are certain symptoms accompanying them. Again, these are not malignant.

Malignant primary bone tumors are so rare that only two/tenths of a percent of all new cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, "in 2008, about 2,380 new cases of cancer of the bones and joints will be diagnosed in the United States." Remember that means all primary cancers of the bone. Chondrosarcoma is just a small part of that count. In comparison to Breast Cancer, which has been stated as nearly 800,000 annually (in 2006) according to the Susan G. Komen website, bone cancers are very rare

The most common type of bone cancer is osteosarcoma, which develops in new tissue inside growing bones. Evidence suggests that Ewing's sarcoma, another form of bone cancer, begins in immature nerve tissue in bone marrow. Osteosarcoma and Ewing's sarcoma tend to occur more frequently in children and adolescents, while chondrosarcoma occurs more often in adults.

Generally, Chondrosarcoma has a better outcome than osteosarcoma. The treatment options for both these cancers are different. Treatment for chondrosarcoma is less invasive than treatment for Osteosarcoma. Treatment for chondrosarcoma commonly only involves surgical removal of the tumor and surrounding tissue.

Recurrence rates for chondrosarcoma are less than osteosarcoma. Recurrence of chondrosarcoma occurs in the same location as the original tumor or very close to it. Recurrence are rarely found in other parts of the body. Metastasis is not considered recurrence.

Chemotherapy and Radiation treatments are more frequently necessary in osteosarcoma. As of May 2009, chemotherapy and Radiation are not effective and will not produce a cure in chondrosarcomas. If clear margins are done in the original surgery, the likelihood is considerably less.  If the tumor is quite large or has an aggressive grade, amputation, partial amputation or limb salvage surgery may be necessary

If the Chondrosarcoma is located in the skull base, Proton Beam Radiation has been very successful in halting further growth along with necessary surgery. Regular radiation is not sufficiently strong, or as targeted to the tumor as Proton Beam radiation is. Sometimes Proton Beam is used in spinal Chondrosarcoma, and recently some attempts are being made with pelvic chondrosarcoma. Still, surgery is necessary.

Keep in mind that the percentage for full recovery in chondrosarcoma patients is much higher than in osteosarcoma. It is absolutely necessary to have frequent follow up x-rays and scans in order to verify there are no recurrences for at least five years and sometimes eight years. (This is up to the discretion of the doctor). Even if there is a recurrence, there are good chances for long term survival.

Chondrosarcoma is NOT the type of bone cancer that spreads from other organs to the bone. That is called metastatic bone cancer which might be located in more than one bone. A typical example is when lung, kidney, liver, breast or other cancer spreads to the bones as part of their metastasis. Examination of the cells of metastatic bone cancer look like the original type of cancer cells, (prostate, or liver, breast etc.)

These are other types of bone cancer which are NOT bone cancers produced from other types of cancer.

Ewing's Sarcoma
Malignant Fibrous Histiocytoma
Giant Cell Tumor of Bone
Multiple Myeloma

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apjohn316 said...

This is a wonderful site with great information. Thank you for taking the time to put this information together.

Diana said...

Thank you for your very helpful and insightful information.

Elizabeth Munroz said...

You are most welcome! Thank you for your kind words!

Linda said...

Thank you so much for all of your information. Our son who is 18 was diagnosed at the beginning of January. He'd had shoulder pain for a few months but we thought it was just a strain that would go away. We went in for an MRI and were then referred to a wonderful specialist in Denver. He had surgery almost a week ago and about half of his scapula and a small part of his collar bone were removed. Recovery has been rough so far but we are very glad that it is out and hopefully that will be the worst of it. Your information is wonderful and it's great to hear actual success stories as this is such a rare form of cancer.

Elizabeth Munroz said...

Thank you for your appreciation, Linda! It makes my own journey through chondrosarcoma all the more worth it. There were no resources when I had my CS problems and I had to put this information out here in plain English so others would have a chance to know they are not alone. I hope your son's recovery goes fast and he will soon be feeling better.

Anonymous said...

i'm not sure where to ask questions or if there is a contact email/address, but i have a friend recently diagnosed with chondrosarcoma. i'm trying to decipher the difference between Stages and Grades. do you know?
thank you

Elizabeth Munroz said...

Anonymous said...

Thank you Doctor for this useful and clear information. Last week after having dull pain on right side of pelvis and swollen abdomen and multiple obgyn and gastro exams last year, my new obgyn decided to have my MRI read by a skilled orthopeadic surgeon. He said by looking at the MRI that he found the cause of my dull pain, he said there is a nodule on the inside of the pelvic bone pressing on the right leg nerve as well. I also suffer from endometriosis and my obgyn has found some chocolate cyst in the pelvis. A laporoscopy is scheduled to removed the endo by my obgyn surgeon and also with the assistance of the orthopeadic surgeon who found the nodule, in order to establish what this nodule on the pelvic bone is. Could it be endometriosis too that traveled or a chondrosarcoma or something else in your opinion? Thank you.

Elizabeth Munroz said...

Sorry, I'm not a doctor. I am a chondrosarcoma patient who has survived. I set up this site so that others interested in chondrosarcoma issues could read about it in plain language. I wouldn't dream of giving a medical opinion. If your doctor has already noted a nodule on the pelvic bone and has an orthopedic surgeon now involved in your case, it is clear to me they do not think the nodule on the bone is of a gynecological nature. I wish you good health in your upcoming procedure and hope the bone nodule will turn out to be benign.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this information, I am also a surviver after 4 surgeries and physical therapy to regain my walking abilities, I had CS on my lower spinal cord in my mid-30's and they had to cut my coxis because of the severely infected area, I did not experience pain or any simptoms, which was strange because I was a very active individual. The doctors also find it strange that there were no symptoms, I was able to discover the facts when I visited my doctor for a yearly physical and asked if she could request a colonoscopy, not sure why I asked but I wanted this included in my exam, to my surprise this is how we discovered the tumor, at first it was benning, and the second tumor came back as malignant 4 months alter after surgery, this information you gave its beneficial, it help others understand what doctors cannot explain in simple words.

Elizabeth Munroz said...

Thanks for your comment. You bring up an important point. Sometimes people don't have any obvious symptoms and tumor is "accidentally" diagnosed when other medical testing is going on. Also, it does happen, that first tumor removal might show benign pathology and recurrence shows that it has become malignant. I am glad you are still here!

Lori Chivers said...

Thank you much all the information provided here. Get an MRI early!!!!
I am now a survivor of a large Chondrosarcoma in my left humerus.
I thought I was going to die from the pain of it! I had my surgery and I am so grateful for the pain relief!
Besides a six inch scar, my shoulder is as good as new, truly!

God Bless all of you in the struggle!

Unknown said...

Hi, I have chondrosarcoma. I have had my clavicle bone, first rib bone , part of my Sturm removed. Now I can't work because I have no stability in my arm and I hurt all over still.. I don't know what to do.

Elizabeth Munroz said...

Dear Unknown,
I suggest you join the Facebook Chondrosarcoma Support Group Community. You will find others with the same diagnosis who can help you

Tipsie Gadley said...

I had chondrosarcoma in my left forearm last year and had surgery May of last year....I had a blackout spell at my work last year not too long after my surgery and fell on the concrete face first and fell on my left shoulder ( which is the same arm I had the cancer in a few months prior). so, I was thinkn that maybe it had went to my shoulder or somethin or if I just had an injury from my fall and it's just now showing up in March of this year? I went to Mayo Clinic when my original Oncologist couldn't find the problem because I was hurting so bad....they said I had inflammation and fluid around my socket and they gave me a cortisone shot in my shoulder that day, which the dr said should work for 3 took it a week to come into effect and it lasted less than 24hrs and she was shocked that that's all the more it she put me on anti-inflammatory pills for a month in April and told me to take then for a month and then give it a month to see if the pain comes back.....Well, here it is almost 2 months later and I'm still in severe pain with my shoulder....My oncologist won't return my calls, I guess because I got a 2nd opinion, which is my choice and I called Mayo Clinic back like the dr there told me to do and they're not gonna call me back until Tuesday, because the Dr's secretary is out from Friday to Monday and won't be back until Tuesday....I went to a CareSpot today because I had to take our daughter and just saw the dr there about it and he wouldn't touch it....he said he was gonna refer me to another oncologist that they need to be the ones to do anything with it....So, I'm just tryin to figure this all out...

Elizabeth Munroz said...

I'm so sorry Tipsie, to learn of your complications!!! I hope this gets resolved quickly!